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Caramel Popcorn Balls

These caramel popcorn balls are made in the microwave in just 15 minutes! Covered in sweet, gooey caramel and perfectly chewy and crunchy.

Stack of caramel popcorn balls on a white plate.
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Salted Caramel Popcorn Balls

I’m obsessed with all things caramel! I love the rich, golden flavor and how decadent it tastes in desserts. These caramel popcorn balls are a favorite, as well as microwave caramel candies, caramel apple dip, homemade toffee and peanut brittle.

These caramel popcorn balls are adapted from my microwave caramel popcorn recipe and taste SO delicious! They’re covered in a sweet, gooey caramel sauce and are perfectly chewy and crunchy.

The best thing about them is that they are SO simple to make and will take only about 15 minutes from start to finish. You don’t even need to turn on the stove and pull out the candy thermometer. Easy peasy!

Kids of all ages (even adults) love popcorn balls. These would make the perfect treat for any fall or Halloween party! You could even add in some extras like M&M’s, candy corn, chopped nuts or sprinkles. So fun!

Reasons to Love Them

  • Made in the microwave. No stove or oven required! Only the microwave is used.
  • Ready in 15 minutes. Your popcorn balls will be ready in 15 minutes from start to finish.
  • Kid and adult approved. This is a fun treat for ALL ages – everyone always love them!
  • Perfect for parties. Individual bite-sized treats are great for entertaining.
  • Makes a great gift. Homemade gifts are always better in my opinion. Simply wrap in gift wrap, tie with a bow and add a gift tag!

Recipe Ingredients

A simple caramel made in the microwave is poured over popcorn to create the ultimate treat any time of year.

Mixing caramel corn in a glass bowl with a wooden spoon.

Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.

  • Popcorn: I like to use Skinny Pop, but any type of popped popcorn will do. The salty nuttiness of popcorn pairs perfectly with a sweet caramel coating.
  • Butter: I like to use unsalted butter when the popcorn is already salted. The butter helps create the creaminess of the caramel.
  • Brown sugar: The richness of brown sugar adds so much depth to the caramel and gives it a really beautiful color.
  • Corn syrup: Not only does this add an extra layer of sweetness, but it also helps to stabilize the caramel.
  • Vanilla: I love the flavor vanilla adds and how it balances the sweetness and saltiness of these popcorn balls.
  • Baking soda: The reason we add baking soda to the caramel is not just for the fun foam that happens, but because it reacts with the brown sugar and corn syrup, creating tiny carbon dioxide air bubbles. This leads to a softer texture in caramel.

Other Add-In’s:

These popcorn balls taste delicious as-is, but feel free to add in extras if desired. You could even drizzle the tops with melted chocolate or use food coloring to dye the popcorn balls fun colors. Such a fun way to make these treats a little more festive around the holidays!

  • Chopped nuts
  • M&M’s
  • Chocolate chips
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Candy corn
  • Sprinkles

How to Make Popcorn Balls

To prepare, lay a piece of wax or parchment paper on the counter or on a baking sheet. Use a bag of pre popped popcorn or make microwave or stovetop popcorn with fresh corn kernels. Place popped popcorn in a large bowl and set aside.

how to make popcorn balls
  1. Cook caramel in microwave. Add butter, brown sugar and corn syrup in a microwave safe bowl. Cook for one minute. Stir and cook two additional minutes for chewy popcorn balls. If you like crunchy popcorn balls, cook an additional minute.
  2. Add in vanilla and baking soda. Remove caramel mixture from microwave and stir in vanilla and baking soda.
  3. Coat popcorn with caramel and form into balls. Pour caramel over popcorn and stir until well coated. Allow to cool slightly. Grease hands with butter (or use wax paper or gloves) and shape the popcorn into 2-inch balls.

TIP: To test if your caramel has reached a soft ball, grab a cup of ice water. Then dip a spoon in the caramel and then dip it into the ice water. It should form a soft ball (chewy caramel). If it’s still stringy, cook an additional minute.

Popcorn balls stacked on white plate.

Recipe FAQs

Why won’t my caramel popcorn balls stick together?

You may have too much popcorn and not enough caramel. I always start with 10 cups popcorn and add more if it seems like there isn’t enough. You also want to be sure to really squeeze the balls together to make sure they are sticking.

How do you keep caramel popcorn balls from getting soggy?

This is the opposite issue to the one above. This typically happens when you have too much caramel and not enough popcorn. As I mentioned, I start with 10 cups popcorn and add more if it looks like there is too much caramel sauce.

Storage Tips

To keep them fresh, you can either wrap them individually with plastic wrap or store them in a zip-top bag or airtight container. They will keep at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

5 star review

“Excellent recipe! So very easy! And fun to make. May husband and I did it together to make large popcorn balls for the grand children for Christmas. We decided this should be a new Christmas tradition!”

– Patricia

More Easy Popcorn Recipes

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popcorn balls

Caramel Popcorn Balls

5 from 19 votes
↑ Click stars to rate now!
Author: Jamielyn Nye
These caramel popcorn balls are made in the microwave in just 15 minutes! Covered in sweet, gooey caramel and perfectly chewy and crunchy.
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 5 mins
Total Time: 15 mins
Servings: 24

Ingredients 

  • 10-12 cups popped popcorn , I used Skinny Pop
  • ½ cup butter , cut into pieces
  • 1 cup light brown sugar , packed
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt

Optional mix in's: chopped nuts, m&m's, candy corn, sprinkles

    Instructions

    • Lay a piece of wax or parchment paper on the counter or on a baking sheet. Place popped popcorn in a large bowl.
    • In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave butter, brown sugar and corn syrup 1 minute. Stir and cook 2 additional minutes for chewy popcorn balls. If you like crunchy popcorn balls, cook 1 minute more. Stir in vanilla and baking soda. 
    • Pour caramel over popcorn and stir until well coated. Allow to cool slightly.
    • Grease hands with butter (or use wax paper or gloves) and shape the popcorn into 2-inch balls. Wrap each ball with plastic wrap or store in a zip-top bag or an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. 

    Notes

    Variations:
    • For a fun twist, mix in M&M’s, candy corn, sprinkles, and/or nuts. 
    • Use food coloring to dye the popcorn balls a festive color for the holidays.
    Quantity: One batch goes a long way. It will typically make 24 (2-inch balls) , but depending on the size could make more or less.
    Tip: To test if your caramel has reached a soft ball, grab a cup of ice water. Then dip a spoon in the caramel and dip it into the ice water. It should form a soft ball (chewy caramel). If it’s still stringy, cook an additional minute.
    Storage: Wrap each ball with plastic wrap or store in a zip-top bag or an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. 

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1popcorn ball | Calories: 97kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 58mg | Potassium: 29mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 127IU | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 0.2mg

    Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.

    Course: Dessert
    Cuisine: American

    Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

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